There are really two very different types of dream analysis. This is because of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the term. What many people label dream analysis is really dream interpretation, which is not a therapeutic approach but more akin to symbolism and the belief that a specific image in a dream is directly related to a concept.
The problem with the non-therapeutic approach to dream interpretation is that it is purely fabricated. While there are some standard types of equivalencies, these have simply been made up over the years. The common symbols considered in dream interpretation are found in “dream dictionaries” and other types of online or published books, videos or blogs.
Most of the people offering dream interpretation are not degreed individuals, and they hold no qualifications or certifications in the mental health field. These are not a highly trained, credentialed Harley Street psychotherapist most people turn to for help. Rather, they are self-appointed experts, healers, or psychics that have developed these skills and abilities over time and in working with different individuals.
The information provided by dream interpretation “experts” tends to be readily available online. Often there is a very obvious component to the symbolism that is probed by the “expert” and then fleshed out based on the answers provided by the client. For example, if you have a dream where you are running away, the dream interpreter will tell you that there is something troubling in your life that you are trying to escape because it makes you uncomfortable. If you were to respond with “yes”, then they will interpret other symbols in the dream to relate to that specific concept.
Dream analysis, on the other hand, is based on the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud. His work, “The Interpretation of Dreams” is still considered groundbreaking text in the role of dreams in the connection between the subconscious and the conscious mind. Although initially Freud saw all dreams as having a sexual basis, later he amended that statement and rather saw all dreams as wish fulfilment.
In this way, a hidden or a secret wish or desire was being expressed through the dream. The Harley Street psychotherapist that is trained in psychoanalysis can use dream analysis as one component of understanding patients and guiding the therapy to discover these hidden wishes or messages. This is true when people are struggling to make changes in their lives, to improve themselves in some way, or to reverse the course of destructive behaviours in their life.
The way that a client or patient talks about dreams and the emotions they evoke are more important in dream analysis than the content of the dream. It highlights the client’s lens or perspective on the subject, which is always personal in nature. Through this understanding of the current state of the individual’s thoughts and beliefs, the Harley Street psychotherapist is positioned to ask questions to bring these previously hidden perceptions to light.
When using dream analysis, some of the most common questions asked by a psychotherapist will include:
- Why do you think this image was in your dream?
- What do you associate this image or dream with?
- What current issues are you struggling with that are similar to your dream?
The specific image is not critical, it is what that image means to the individual on a personal level that is at the heart of dream analysis. This is very different than equating a specific image to a message, which has no scientific basis.
The result of using dream analysis as one component of helping make associations with past events, thoughts and beliefs to current issues is very helpful. Once the individual is aware of the connection and the emotional link between these events it is possible to talk about solutions and work through ways to change.